Do you believe in magic? That was up to the audience members Sunday, Oct. 7 at Western Carolina University’s presentation of America’s Hottest Illusionist Jason Bishop.
Bishop wowed the crowd with a mix of large-scale illusions, like his famous Double Levitation, to small-scale illusions, like making a live fish appear from an iPhone.
The house was full by the start of the show. Music videos played in the background as guest arrived, and an announcer informed audience members to examine a box that was located in the front of the stage as well as to sign it.
“It took me four years to get this man,” said Paul Lormand, director of the Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center, during his short introduction before the show.
The show started off with a short music video that transitioned into Bishop performing a trick that took technology to a new level. Bishop manipulated the screen of a box, pulling out a Ping-Pong out of the screen and placed it back inside. His assistant, Kim Hess, then joined him on stage and proceeded to get in the box. The screen then showed Hess performing outfit changes, and as Bishop pulled the screen to reveal what was inside, Hess had magically changed clothes as well inside the box.
“It’s pretty cool – lot of different things and using technology in cool ways,” said Casey Hester, junior.
The next trick Bishop performed involved placing Hess in a box, folding the box to a size that no human could fit in and sticking three swords inside it. Bishop let audience members see all sides of the stunt by placing a mirror facing the crowd to see the backside.
During the performance, Bishop would entertain the crowd with jokes and talk about the different tricks he did as well as stories from past events.
“I think it’s cool,” said Mikayla Mann, sophomore. “I like that he has a Houdini feel, but his humor is weird.”
Bishop even had his own challenge magic for the show. Three audience members assisted Bishop by checking a box and bag. Then, Bishop was tied inside the canvas bag with several different knots. The audience members finished securing Bishop by locking him inside the box with three different locks. Kids then stepped on the stage and made an arch around the box to watch all angles. Hess took a large drapery and while standing on the box’s lid, lifted the drapery above her and the box. In the blink of an eye, Bishop stood in the same place as Hess had just stood, outside of the box and free. Many of the kids stood there with their mouths wide open in amazement with a round of applause from the audience members.
The final acts for the first half of the show involved Bishop performing some up close hand tricks. Some involved making a goldfish appear from an iPhone, changing a $1 to a $100, to which he gave to a female audience member that assisted him.
After a short intermission, Bishop and Hess returned to the stage and performed tricks like making a light bulb disappear from across stage and into his hand, fitting his assistant in a box that appeared to only have her head in it and ended with his most famous trick, the Double Levitation. Both Bishop and Hess floated above the stage as the special effects fog drifted around their bodies in the eerie blue lights.
With an entertaining performance and a stage presence that left the crowd laughing and applauding for more, America’s Hottest Illusionist won the crowd at Western Carolina.